A GREAT OBSTACLE

In my own life, and in conversations I’ve had with other men trying to salvage their marriages, I see two great obstacles to achieving openness, brokenness, and freedom.

The first obstacle is probable intuitively obvious to the casual observer – Pride.

The second may not be as obvious, and it is rarely acknowledged or dealt with by those who are failing to truly reconcile with their wives.  It is the entitlement mentality which is so pervasive in our society today; the idea that I somehow deserve to be forgiven by my wife, or that others should recognize how much I’ve changed and congratulate me for it, or any number of other detrimental attitudes.

For example, without getting into details, I was once talking with a man who had decided to try the principles taught in 4 Days 2 Freedom.  He had physically abused his wife, committed adultery literally countless times, but he decided to come clean and ask her to forgive him.  I think it was less than three months later that he asked me something like, “How much dirt do I have to let her pile on top of me?!?”

You see, he was upset that his wife hadn’t forgiven him and then completely forgotten about all the pain and anguish he had caused her and the family.  He was upset that she had the audacity to keep bringing things up, especially when he was displaying the same type of behavior toward her that he had shown before coming clean.

My response? It was in terms of Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”  I said something akin to, “How much dirt did Jesus let people pile on top of Him on His way to the cross? He was completely innocent, but He took the penalty for all of our sins.” That man went away angry, and completely destroyed his marriage because he didn’t get the treatment he thought he deserved.

Friends, there is a scripture which brings home to me exactly what I deserve: “For the wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23a

Yes, I know the rest of the verse, “…but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, His Son.” (emphasis mine)

Does anyone else out there get it?  Or am I completely off base, here?

When I came clean with my wife, I pulled a big dump truck full of garbage up to her and emptied it all on her head! She drew upon God’s grace and forgave me, as did a lot of other people I confessed to and asked forgiveness from.  In fact, folks thought I was such a good guy for having come clean, no one even bothered to ask how I was doing for almost a year…and as Proverbs 26:11 says, “Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.” Getting caught, having to confess to my wife again, and going through the aftermath thoroughly drove home to me God’s grace as demonstrated through my wife.  She really wanted to kill me…but she chose to listen to God, and extended true forgiveness.

I know that I don’t deserve my wife’s forgiveness, but I am grateful to receive it, and sorrowful when something happens to cause her to remember the pain I have caused.  True forgiveness does not forget past sin (see Revelation 20:11-12 regarding the “great white throne judgment), but chooses not to remember (Psalm 103 – God removes our sin, but there is no indication he forgets it).

Getting back to entitlement…how can I possibly think that my wife owes me forgiveness, much less that God owes me forgiveness?  He does forgive, but it is an act of mercy, purely by His grace, not because of any I have done or deserved (Ephesians 2:8-9).

So, when my wife gets hurt, or upset, or expresses her frustration that I have not changed in an area of my life, the way of brokenness is to humbly take responsibility for her pain and fear, to acknowledge that it is my sin which is at fault, and start the process of figuring out what she needs to feel loved (it takes – gasp – communication, guys…something I am horrible at, but learning).  Do I always have the right reaction? Far from! I am nowhere near as broken and humble and loving as I want to be, but when I do make the right choice (and it is definitely a choice), the pain is assuaged, the reconciliation is sweet, and my wife feels the love of Christ.

Give up your perceived rights, friends.  The only right you really have is to receive death, and there but for the grace of God go I.

Peace,

George

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STARBUCKS’ RESPONSE

Dear George,

We’d like to clarify that while we have voiced our support of Washington State legislation recognizing marriage equality for same-sex couples, Starbucks has not provided any financial support of this legislation.

At Starbucks, we deeply respect the views of our customers and partners (employees) and recognize that there is genuine passion surrounding this topic. Starbucks has many constituents, and from time to time we will make decisions that are consistent with our values and heritage but may be inconsistent with the views of a particular group.

From our very earliest days, Starbucks has strived to create a company culture that puts our people first and treats everyone equitably. Our company has a lengthy history of leading on and supporting policies that promote equality and inclusion, and we are proud to be one of several leading Northwest employers that support of Washington State legislation recognizing marriage equality. We made this decision through the lens of humanity and our commitment to embracing diversity.

We have 200,000 people that work for Starbucks around the world and the equity of our brand has been defined by the relationship we have with our partners and the relationship they have with our customers. Put simply, the success we’ve enjoyed and the resulting shareholder value created are directly linked to the pride our partners have for the company they work for and their connection with the communities we serve.

Warm Regards,

Cassandra G
Customer Relations
Starbucks Coffee Company
800 STARBUC (782-7282)
Monday through Friday, 5AM to 8PM (PST)

LETTER TO STARBUCKS

Here is a letter I recently sent to Starbucks:

Dear Starbucks,

I am finally getting around to writing, letting you know my wife and I have stopped spending money at your stores.  We used to spend about $100 per month, but feel that we cannot knowingly support a company which aggressively endorses and promotes sinful behavior.

I, myself, have sinned a lot in my day – but I do not expect anyone to endorse my lifestyle choice or push to have my behavior legally ratified.  Same-sex marriage is just one amongst many things condemned by the bible, so I do not think it deserves a pass any more than the other behaviors listed in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10:  “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

I have been a thief, a drunkard, a reviler, greedy, sexually immoral, an adulterer, and an idolater – but I have turned away from those sins, not campaigned to try and make everyone accept those things as normal and good. 

Starbucks is taking a socially and morally irresponsible stand, and I will not spend my money to support your company while you continue to do so.

Thank you for your time.

Respectfully,

George Ganahl

SIRI

I just got Siri to work on my iPhone 3GS.  One of the first questions I asked was, “How do I achieve true brokenness?”  The response? “Let me think…How about a web search for ‘How do I achieve true brokenness?’”

Informative.

A Key to Walking in brokenness

I was reading Galatians 6 this morning, and verse 3 leaped out at me: “For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”

It is in the context of exhorting each other as Christians, bearing each other’s burdens to fulfill the law of Christ, but also follows shortly after a warning to keep watch on yourself that you not fall into temptation while restoring others.

This verse encapsulates something which has been the major factor in rejuvenating my marriage relationship with Marla, and which has been the primary reason I have seen other marriages completely fall apart even after the couples have learned the principles of Openness and Brokenness at a Whatever It Takes! conference.  Now, even seven years after I first came clean with my wife regarding the hidden sin in my life and started on the path to true brokenness, I truly do not consider myself worthy of her forgiveness.  When I do something that triggers an old hurt or memory, or when I see her feeling the pain from my years of infidelity, I never (to the best of my knowledge) respond with, “You said you forgave me years ago – can’t you just forget it?” Instead, I remind myself once again that her pain, her reaction, is rooted in my sin, and that it is only by the grace of God that Marla is still my wife and truly loves me more than ever.  Sin has consequences, and even after forgiveness the consequences continue.  If I had contracted AIDS from a prostitute, I might have received forgiveness, but the consequence would be an ongoing, devastating reminder of my sin.

All too often when I talk to a man who is trying to restore a marriage after either confessing or getting caught in his moral failure I hear something like, “Why can’t she just forgive me?  She keeps bringing it up!”  First off, that’s not a question a man walking in brokenness would ask.  Instead, the broken response is to take responsibility for her pain/anger/depression/whatever, pray with her, and look for ways to love her as Christ loved the church.  Unbroken men have asked me things like, “How much dirt do I need to let her pile on top of me?!?”  My response is, “How much abuse did Jesus Christ allow to be heaped on His head to pay the price for our sins?”  Jesus loved us by taking full responsibility for all of our sins, even though He had done absolutely nothing wrong.  There have been glorious times when I have taken responsibility for a pain point in Marla’s life, and she has actually blessed me by saying, “No, that’s not your fault!”

If you truly want to walk in brokenness, get rid of the idea that you deserve anything other than DEATH! Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” No one owes you forgiveness – it is a gift by God’s grace.  You can’t demand it, or even expect it. “But,” you say, “the Bible teaches that as a Christian she needs to forgive me, not seven times but seventy times seven times.”  True.  But That’s between your wife and God – if you throw that scripture up in her face, you are taking the place of a holy, perfect God instead of loving her.  If you are truly walking in brokenness, there are very few women who can resist giving you the forgiveness you don’t deserve. Once again, you deserve to suffer the consequences of your sin, you deserve to have your wife leave you to mope about in your miserable, prideful existence, and any kindness or forgiveness you receive should be viewed as a blessing.

I know without a shadow of a doubt that if I were to start expecting Marla to forgive me, and to forget the pain I have caused in her life, that our marriage would cease to exist.  We might still live in the same house, but there would be no marriage.  As an aside, forgiveness does not include forgetting anything. The Bible says that we will be called into account for every idle word we have spoken.  God doesn’t forget anything – He chooses not to remember. So, how much less can my wife forget my sins?

Ponder Galatians 6:3.  Do you think you are something?  A big man (or woman – I speak in biblical terms) who has been gracious enough to dump a load of garbage on his wife by confessing all his hidden sin, then walked away and thought himself open and broken while she suffocates under the pile of junk you dropped on her? If so, and you truly think you deserve forgiveness, and to have all things just put aside, then you are deceiving yourself.  Man up, take responsibility, and realize that you will be dealing with consequences for the rest of your life!  If it is less time than that, then be blessed, but never, ever, expect the consequences to just go away.

May the peace, joy, and love of Christ abound in your life!

George